The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) spent an estimated $40 million in rate-payer-funds on luxury aviation vehicles, including two jets and a specialty Mercedes-Benz helicopter, according to an environmental advocacy group.
The TVA, a federally owned corporation that provides power to some 9 million Americans, authorized the purchase of the helicopter and two jets — one of which was formerly owned by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones — over a two and a half-year period, according to the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.
Southern Alliance for Clean Energy Stephen Smith wrote of the purchases:
Two Cessna Citation Excel jets with the N-Numbers (also know as tail numbers visible on the planes) N561PG and N560GJ. These are sweet rides costing about $13 million each and have operational costs of about $1,800-$2,000 an hour. The TVA millionaire jet setters didn’t just stop at fancy jets, they also decided there was a need for a luxury helicopter, and boy did Johnson score a nice one. The Mercedes-Benz style EC145 helicopter N-number N482AE will get you to the office in real style. To be clear, several of TVA’s helicopters appear to be necessary for transmission work and these can be found on this FAA list, but the approximately $7 million luxury helicopter with the $1.5 million “Mercedes Benz style” interior which includes fine hard wood paneling is not likely to be seen inspecting transmission lines any time soon. A former TVA employee was ‘shocked’ when he learned about the hardwood floors in the helicopter.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Tea Party joined the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy in calling for TVA President and CEO Bill Johnson — the highest paid federal employee with a $6.5 million salary — to resign for irresponsible spending.
“It is time we drained the swamp at the top of TVA, pure and simple. These purchases are further evidence that the self-regulated TVA monopoly is out of control, and CEO Bill Johnson needs to be replaced,” said Debbie Dooley, Tea Party co-founder and president of Conservatives for Energy Freedom.
The TVA has defended the purchases as a “time saver” for their officials, citing the lack of direct commercial flights between Memphis and Chattanooga.
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